Moon Clips: What Are They and How Do They Work | USCCA

When the United States was preparing to enter World War I, it was desperately short of material, jumping from a 30,000-man army to a projected 1-million-man force. Colt and other contractors could not fill the need for the issue handgun — the 1911 .45 Government Model. Both Colt and Smith & Wesson had production capacity geared up. Since the .45 automatic cartridge does not have a cartridge case rim, the ejector star could not eject the cartridge. S&W developed a thin sheet-metal clip to take the place of the cartridge case rim, neatly solving the problem of using the cartridge in a revolver. The moon clip was born, providing the necessary .05-inch headspace. There was now a single cartridge for both the automatic and the revolver in the supply chain.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I know some people who are not a fan of moon clips, but I like them. I have a few revolvers that are set up for moon clips. The only thing I can add to the article above is invest in a good mooning/demooning tool. It will save your fingers and save your moon clips. They can bend, especially with struggling to load or unload the clip. There are many out there, but I have a couple from BMT (each one is designed around a specific size and caliber They hold the clip securely and either load or unload the moon clip with a single twist. It makes loading and unloading easy, trouble-free, and fast.

Great article/ information for people who are not familiar with this system! :+1:

Can anyone provide a picture of what they look like?

I dont have any pics on my phone. If no one else posts pics, I will take some later tonight for you.

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I would appreciate that.

Ok @Justin47 here are moon clips. They are flat pieces of spring steel that hold cartridges.

The purpose being to make reloads faster, particularly in a non-rimmed cartridge where the extractor star on a swing out cylinder has nothing to engage. They are also great for quick reloads as there is no chance of a cartridge rim slipping under the star and tying up a revolver till it gets cleared. The cylinder must be cut for them.
If you look closely, the cylinder on the left (the 8 shot) is cut for the moon clips. The one on the right is not. Trying to use moon clips without the cylinder cut will result in the inability to close the cylinder as the moon clip rests in the cut like this.
The moon clip clips into the grove to control the cartridges.

And now you have a single unit that operates similar to a speed loader except it’s all one piece. Just eject and drop. Nothing to twist, push, fumble with after the reload.
Hope that gives you a clear visual. There is more like half moon, and some technical stuff to get a great running system to run smoother, but that is it.

The one disadvantage of a moon clip is they are a bit fragile and can bend. That is why I recommended a load tool in my post above. And obviously they can bend floating around in a pocket and that can cause some extra time reloading.

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@Brian139 thank you, that’s really interesting. I’m going to buy a couple of those and see how they work. Thank you for the visual.

Well, you made me do it. Midway USA has a free shipping promotion going on and getting my stuff out, you made me order another 25 moon clips for each of my moon clip firearms.

One of the biggest complaints I hear about moon clips is that they are hard to load and bend easily. But I love the idea of loading a revolver fast.

@Jorge, that is the biggest thing, especially bending one if it floats in your pocket.

I have a couple of the BMT’s for the different size moon clips I use. It makes loading and unloading them quick and effortless. Plus, loading and unloading without a tool can be very hard on your thumbs.

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Thanks for the information. That’s a nice little loader. So much easier and easier on your thumbs. That’s why I am so happy that now we have magazine loaders because not long ago, you were lucky if you had any thumbs left after loading a magazine or two. :unamused:

Got a deal on a RIA AL 9.0 (9mm revolver) and introduced to moon clips. I’ve seen speed loader pouches, do they work for moon clips or do I need to find something special?

Speed loader pouches would work but you would likely need to practice getting the moon clips out with the tip of your finger since the moon clips will sit very low in most of them. It may be tough if you have big fingers. A few companies make special moon clip holders mostly designed for competition that make grabbing the moon clips with rounds very easy.